Monday, 30 September 2013

Season of mists and mellow freakiness

I found my way to this after buying a Psychic Ills album (on the same label, also good in a sub-Spacemen 3 way and such good sleeve design). But Lower Mind is maybe my track of the year as far as this sort of thing goes. It reminds me of something, probably another track, possibly another life. I don't think I've ever loved such a murky album before. Slightly disappointed that Amen Dunes isn't the guy's real name and that he isn't the frightening Joey Ramone/Bette Davis lovechild on the cover there.

Amen Dunes Lower Mind

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Will we never be free

I read yesterday in the local paper that 200 things have been added to a list of protected things in the borough, buildings mainly I think but one caught my eye: an Edward VIII pillar box. One of perhaps only 130 survivors from 1936, the famous year of the three kings, the British Empire's lamer version of the Roman Empire's year of the four emperors in AD69. (Itself exceeded in AD193, the year of the five emperors. But by then multiple-monarch fatigue had set in.)

Anyway, the prospect saw me up and dressed before 9am on a Sunday morning and rocketing off on my bike (my pyjama clad wife forlorn, "But...what's for breakfast?"). My destination: the mysterious, relatively unexplored bit of Twickenham sandwiched between the railway lines and the A316 (near the Stoop stadium).

There's something very Victorian about pillar boxes, mainly I suppose because they emerged in that era and generally the design hasn't been changed and perhaps because even now they're Elizabeth II boxes, and she exists as a living link to the last vestiges of the Empire. I was going to throw in the fact that they're painted bright red, which is our imperial colour, only I read that originally they were painted green. And, according to the lovely British Postal Museum & Archive, "the colour green proved too unobtrusive and people were unable to find them".

Saturday, 28 September 2013

slo mo autumnal nostalgia trip catastrophe

A nice fuzzy, tripped out picture of Marianne Faithfull with Spacemen 3 pounding their way through Mary Anne on top.

I don't listen to their first album as much as I should. I don't know why not. I had a little Spacemen 3 session the other day actually. It all started with Playing With Fire, track one Honey will always send me to a very special place and time, but I'd completely forgotten about track two Come Down Softly To My Soul. It's such a simple, polished pop song, your mum would probably quite like it.

Sunday, 22 September 2013


I love the name Aurelian. Its popularity in France is one of those little things that make me think that, if I were ever to be banished from the UK, France is where I would choose to live. And did you know that the name of Orleans is derived from Aurelian's reconstruction of that city? I didn't until I read it in wikipedia.

Emperor from 270-275. Not much of a reign you might think, but by the standards of the third century that was pretty good going. Compared to the incredible detail we have of events in the late republic we don't know what the hell's going on for a lot of the time in the third century, it's even possible there were emperors we don't know about (if the case of Domitianus II is not unique).

Aurelian's time was taken up with incessant warfare - he reconquered the breakaway provinces of the Gallic empire and the Palmyran empire, earning him the legend: Restitutor Orbis. Restorer of the world. It's actually written Restitutor Bis on the coin, which could also be translated Restorer twice. Perhaps they intended the double meaning. The vendor I bought it from identified it as the coin type RIC 386 Antioch and that certainly matches the reverse design. The portrait there though seems more stylised than any of the other examples I've seen. More modern looking somehow. He looks cool anyway. (He looks a bit like Lee Mavers.)

Queuing for coffee the other day I whiled away the time studying a 50p piece. The reverse bore a decent enough design commemorating something or other. But the portrait, in contrast to Aurelian's troubled visage, was so incredibly bloody boring. As befits our monarch I suppose. Maybe it comes down to the fact that Aurelian wielded real power, dashing about hither and thither vanquishing barbarians. His cuirass - actual armour that almost certainly fended off blows from enemies' swords and arrows etc. I am of course down on autocracy and imperialism, but you've got to concede that Aurelian served the empire, I'm fairly sure he put in a lot more than he got out. Our own dear, drab queen's bland irrelevance on the other hand shines through in her portraits. Why oh why can't we be rid of them?

After his name and this portrait of him the third thing I like about Aurelian is the wall he built around Rome. When I went to Rome my mind was anyway in a state of continuous blown-ness, but the proximity of our hotel to a decent section of the wall made me very happy indeed. The impressiveness of the wall was added to a generation or so later by the emperor Maxentius, another of my favourite emperors.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Music by which to sign death warrants (regretfully)

There are a few versions of this about. I found one today actually, in a cache of consort music lps in my favourite vinyl hunting ground. A bit sad, clearly an enthusiast had popped his or her clogs.

Martin Peerson The Fall of the Leafe 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mr September

To cheer up those delicate souls who get all bummed out at the sight of the natural world decaying all around them, here's a photograph I took today in the car park at work. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Cafe news

When you walk to the end of your road you generally have two options: left or right. I usually turn left, only turning right to post birthday cards from a pillar box up that way or to fetch late night pints of milk from a petrol station. Also on the right though is a greasy spoon that, incredibly, in the eight years I've lived here, I have never sat down and eaten in. (I don't know why not, my wife's theory is that it doesn't look very inviting.)

Anyway, and you may have seen this coming, I went there last Friday. This is how it went down. The chips were truly excellent. Thin and with a slight crunch but by no means dry. The sausages were the usual greasy spoon sausages. No doubt made of reconstituted gubbins, but yummy enough all the same. The egg, writing this three days later I have no strong recollection of the egg. There was nothing bad about it, I'm sure of that. Decor-wise, the tables and seats are of the sturdy, bolted-in variety. The spacing between tables is just right. There might have been a cheese plant, though that could just be my memory playing tricks on me. Overall the atmosphere was friendly and warm. This could be the best cafe in Twickenham.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


One of the more recent effects of my slow transmogrification into my dad is the development of a taste for marmalade. And just as I share with you songs and other things that I like, here, on this fine autumnal morning, is my marmalade recommendation. I've been through a few on my journey but I've put the lesser marmalades out of my mind. There was quite a nice one with whiskey in it. But the best to date has been Wilkin & Sons. I realise it may be regarded as decadent, or even heretical to say it but I most love their no peel variety.

Ob La Di Ob La Da by Marmalade would be a good track to post at this juncture. But I haven't got it. You'll just have to hum it to yourselves.